Pelagic birding trips are expeditions on boats to about 50 kilometers and beyond into the ocean. The objective is to encounter pelagic birds that survive in a habitat of the open ocean and seldom come to the mainland. In fact, the only occasion they make landfall is during storms that can blow them towards the land. The broad families of such species are the tropicbirds, boobies, frigate birds, petrels, shearwaters, some terns and the jaegers.
The challenge in fair weather is that these birds are too far away from the shore, at a distance beyond the continental shelf, which is situated at about 120 kilometers from the shore and the depth drops from about 100 meters to 2 kilometers and beyond and the marine ecology changes dramatically. Most cost effective craft that can cover this distance sail at a speed of about 5 to 10 kilometers an hour and that effectively works to a distance of point of return at 50 to 60 kilometers out into the sea for a 12-hour return trip. The vessels, although licensed to take birders do not have decent facilities for sanitation and rest and therefore its imperative to return back by sundown.
We do pelagic trips that depart from Goa and Mangalore and the best season is just before monsoons in May or in September when the monsoons are receding.
These trips are not insured and are entirely at the risk of the passengers. Further risk during the trip is the possibility of encountering extreme seasickness. However, minimum safety equipment like life jackets and rafts are available on board and seasickness can be mitigated by medication.